I was going to make some sort of banana cake for Dad’s birthday, but Mom suggested I make him banana bread after going over cake options. She thought it’d be nice for him to bring on his trip for a nice snack. He’s leaving to go backpacking, so I made this banana nut bread a day earlier than his birthday.
I don’t really have any great banana bread recipes (I was slightly disappointed by Molly Wizenberg’s version with cinnamon crumble; this, however, does not change the fact that I worship her culinary prowess), and told my mom such. She pulled out her sister’s recipe from her recipe box, and I decided to go with that one.
I actually used shortening, since I had leftover vegetable shortening from when I made gumpaste flipflops to top lemon cupcakes 5+ years ago. Yes, the shortening was still okay, and yes I was a weird child/pre-teen who spent way too much time forming perfect sandals. I think butter would impart a richer flavor in the bread (who doesn’t love butter?), but I wanted to use up the shortening.
I made a few small tweaks. I threw in about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; I wasn’t planning to, but it was on the counter and I thought the warmth of cinnamon sounded good in banana bread. I splashed in some vanilla and I upped the walnuts to 3/4 cup since 1/2 cup didn’t look like much. I toasted the walnut halves and then broke them up a bit with my hands before using them in the batter. I sprinkled some cinnamon and turbinado sugar over the top before baking it to encourage a crunchy, caramelized crust on the bread. I wasn’t sure what temperature to bake the bread at, since it doesn’t say on the notecard, but I baked it at 325F (I was going for 350F, but I used a Pyrex pan, so I decreased the temperature). It was going on 70 minutes and still liquidy when I said screw it and upped the temp to 350F. It was done within the next 5 minutes.
The final banana nut bread was dense and moist. I wish it were a little sweeter, but the banana flavor came through well. The crunchy cinnamon sugar worked out well, and provides a nice textural contrast to the soft bread.
Dad saw it as soon as he came home and dug in immediately. I teased him that he couldn’t open his birthday presents early, but he turned to me with a big bite in his mouth and a “Mmm.”
Aunty Pin’s Banana Nut Bread
1/3 cup shortening (but come on, butter is better)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup ripe mashed bananas (I used about 1 1/2 large bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 T coarse sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon